The singer of this tune, Bill Slayback, was a Major League pitcher himself, though his career was short-lived. Slayback appeared in 42 games, 17 as a starter, for the Detroit Tigers, culminating in a 6-9 record with a 3.84 ERA.
Slayback co-wrote this song with Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell in 1973. The tune chronicles Hank Aaron’s journey to overtake Babe Ruth for the all-time home run record.
This song is amusing in a way that almost hits too close to home. Even though we know it is okay not to be perfect, we all worry that our own “Buckner moment” will come at the most inopportune and humiliating time.
I came across these somewhat randomly this weekend: three songs by a group called The Paid Attendance. So far as I have been able to tell, these are the only three songs by this group, and I have only been able to find audio for two of them. That being said, I suppose it’s not really a big deal that I cannot find audio for the third, as it would likely just fall in line with the other two songs. First off, here’s “Be A Believer in Giant Fever,” released in 1978.
The group must have had a thing for New-York-teams-gone-California, because in 1979, they put one out for the Dodgers.
The third song, for which I have not been able to find audio online, appears to be the same song with a Philly twist: “Be A Believer in Philly Fever.”
I am curious as to whether the original intention was to put out a version for each team in the majors. If so, they didn’t get very far into the process. Whatever the intention, I did find the Giants and Dodgers versions fun to listen to. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to do a little jig while you brush your teeth in the morning.
I occasionally go on binges of television shows that I never watched when they were actually airing on television (for one example, see my posts here about various episodes of the Simpsons). My parents didn’t condone a lot of TV-watching as I grew up, and as an adult, I don’t bother with wasting money on cable or even Netflix. However, I do have a library card, and many public libraries have vast collections of DVDs, including television series. This has afforded me the opportunity to do a tiny bit of catching up on some shows.
My current TV show project, The West Wing, has thoroughly captured my interest and attention. As of this writing, I am about halfway through the third season of the series, and in the first minutes of episode 15, “Hartsfield’s Landing,” C.J. Cregg makes mention during a press briefing of the origins of the seventh inning stretch. Stretch time, she informs reporters, was founded by President William Howard Taft. Naturally this caught my attention, so I had to do a little poking around to find out whether this was true.
It seems the actual origins of the seventh inning have faded with time, but the story of President Taft does circulate. According to the story, during a game he attended on April 4, 1910, the obese Taft stood up during the seventh inning to stretch his legs and find some respite from sitting in the small, wooden chair. When other fans at the ballgame saw Taft stand, they also stood in a gesture of respect for the commander-in-chief.
Another possibility for the tradition’s origins dates back to 1869. According to an article in the New York Herald, following a particularly long second inning of a game between the Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Brooklyn Eagles, the entire crowd at the park simply stood up to stretch. Actual stretch time, of course, then was moved to later in the game.
A third story, this one also dating back to 1869, comes from a letter written by Harry Wright of the Cincinnati Red Stockings. According to Wright, “The spectators all arise between halves of the seventh inning, extend their legs and arms and sometimes walk about. In so doing they enjoy the relief afforded by relaxation from a long posture upon hard benches.”
Today, of course, stretch time comes with singing the chorus of Jack Norworth’s “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” as well as an end to alcohol sales for that game. Whatever the actual origins of the seventh inning stretch, there seems to be no doubt that it was borne out of a need for fans to take a break from the long period of sitting.
I never thought of comparing baseball and ballet, but Terry Cashman makes the metaphor work with this song. The tune is even a bit sing-songy to make it seem more like a dance.
This is a short little tune, but it has a nice feel-good vibe to it. It’s part nostalgia and part present-day joy, all packed into less than two minutes of music.
For me, growing up, it was baseball in the backyard, but this song does make me miss those games.